At first, it was a distressing slithery whisper, like a krait loosed in the room; then a sensation, an itch, as if an assassin were trickling arsenic into my ear; and then apparently the assassin decided to get sadistic and switch to sulfuric acid. I woke up and blinked at the alarm clock; the glowing red LEDs balefully informed me that it was 4:30am. I creakily rose out of bed, went to the window, and pressed my ear against it. It wasn’t a horrible dream. It was true. It was…hymns. Cheesy hymns, played mechanically on an electronic carillon.
Normally, I can cope. These well-insulated Minnesota houses muffle the outside noises well, but it was a clear morning and the pre-dawn silence carried the sound particularly well that day, enough to disturb my sleep. Normally, it’s enough that I keep the doors and windows closed all day and stay inside to avoid the intrusion of nonstop hymns and patriotic songs every half hour from the Vortex of All Evil a few blocks north of me, which if you think about it, is a bit oppressive right there. It’s summer here in the upper midwest, the weather is good, I wouldn’t mind taking my laptop out on the shady deck to work, except…the hymns. It’s at its worst when the weather is sweetest, but I must admit, at least when the tornadoes are storming, the noise is drowned out. My Minnesota pallor is going completely unchallenged this summer, again.
I’ve mentioned this nightmare before. It’s a seasonal nuisance — when the weather turns pleasant and we step outdoors, we’re quickly driven back in by the noise. There seems to be nothing we can do. The Vortex is a ‘charitable’ donation to the local Catholic cemetary by an obnoxious community pest, and it’s all wrapped up in Christianity, both in purpose, location, and content. That means it is protected and beloved by sanctimonious asses who don’t have to live near it.
Here it is.
It doesn’t look like much, does it? Yet there it stands, a monument to evil, a grim and horrible stake surmounted by horns of chaos. I’m sure that if you pulled it up, if you could, you’d find it rooted deeply in Christian Hell, and that every night demons rise from the ground and dance horribly around it. It’s convenient that it is located in a cemetary, because only the dead can rest unperturbed by its presence. If we had a Minnesota Stephen King, he’d be writing terrifying stories about the ordinary townsfolk of a small town being warped and poisoned by emanations from the mysterious malign artifact; an HP Lovecraft of Morris would be troubled by the unholy sounds, and would be writing “<ding> ph’nglui <dong> mglw’nafh <ding> Cthulhu <DONG> R’lyeh <DONG> wgah’nagl <DONG> fhtagn <ding>”. We’re living on the Plains of Madness.
In case you’re wondering exactly where this hellish place is, here’s a map. You can probably guess where I am and where the Pillar of Pandemonium is located.
I show you this for two reasons: as a warning, first of all. Shun this place if you value your sanity. Tourists, there’s a nice little campground several miles away on the Pomme de Terre river; stay there, you’ll be out of range of the malefic sonic curse. Beware, beware the throbbing heart of evil in Morris.
The second reason is hope: if a reader out there is in the Air Force Reserve in the region, and is ever out flying around in an A-10, please save us. A volley of Hellfire missiles followed by some napalm to make sure would be delightful.
Otherwise, I’m converting to Islam just so I can build a minaret somewhere central to where city council members live, and send a muezzin up to howl through a loudspeaker five times a day. Surely they won’t mind, especially since it would be less frequent than our damnable Catholic alternative.